The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) was the first celestial object identified as being spiral. - FactzPedia

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The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) was the first celestial object identified as being spiral.

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) was the first celestial object identified as being spiral.

The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51a, M51a, and NGC 5194, is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy with a Seyfert 2 active galactic nucleus. It lies in the constellation Canes Venatici, and was the first galaxy to be classified as a spiral galaxy.

The Whirlpool Galaxy was first discovered in 1773 by Charles Messier, who was charting the skies looking for objects that might be confused with comets. In 1845, astronomer William Parsons observed the galaxy pair with his telescope at Birr Castle, Ireland, and found the spiral structure of the Whirlpool.

The first galaxies were identified in the 17th Century by the French astronomer Charles Messier, although at the time he did not know what they were. Messier, who was a keen observer of comets, spotted a number of other fuzzy objects in the sky which he knew were not comets.

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